Try not to specialize too early.

Blumengart School Children 1963This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

children’s, teen, adult services, some specialization like cataloging or electronic services. also supervisors of these, such as branch managers.

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members in a suburban area in the Western US.

Do library schools teach candidates the job skills you are looking for in potential hires?

√ Depends on the school/Depends on the candidate

Should library students focus on learning theory or gaining practical skills? (Where 1 means Theory, 5 means practice, and 3 means both equally)

2

What coursework do you think all (or most) MLS/MLIS holders should take, regardless of focus?

√ Budgeting/Accounting
√ Grant Writing
√ Project Management
√ Programming (Events)
√ Web Design/Usability
√ Metadata
√ Research Methods
√ Reference
√ Readers’ Advisory
√ Information Behavior
√ Services to Special Populations
√ Outreach
√ Marketing
√ Instruction
√ Soft Skills (e.g. Communication, Interpersonal Relations)
√ Field Work/Internships
√ Other: Youth Services

Do you find that there are skills that are commonly lacking in MLS/MLIS holders? If so, which ones?

project management
marketing
communication
change (dealing with/managing)

When deciding who to hire out of a pool of candidates, do you value skills gained through coursework and skills gained through practice differently?

√ Other: Depends on the skill, If pressed would go with on the job.

Which skills (or types of skills) do you expect a new hire to learn on the job (as opposed to at library school)?

Technical skills – manipulating particular software like an ILS for example.
Customer service – while I wish that schools would teach it, the reality is that most people have to learn those skills on the job.

Which of the following experiences should library students have upon graduating?

√ Internship or practicum
√ Other presentation

What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their time in library school?

try not to specialize too early – you may think that you only want to work in an academic setting for example, but if you only take those kinds of courses you’ll miss out on a lot.

while i didn’t consider organizational involvement a requirement, it will definitely give you a leg up when interviewing.

This survey was coauthored by Brianna Marshallfrom Hack Library School. Interested in progressive blogging, by, for, and about library students? Check it out!

Special Note: From December 6, 2013 to October 24, 2014, the ALA will accept comments on the Draft revised Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. More information about the process of changing these standards is here. If you have opinions about what people should be learning in library school, here’s a way that you can influence change.

Do you hire librarians? Tell us, “What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School?”: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibschoolsurvey

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Public, Suburban area, Western US, What Should Potential Hires Learn in Library School

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